Xpeng aims for top with technology-heavy SU7 electric vehicle in extremely crowded Chinese EV market hit by slowing demand supply glut
Xiaomi, best-known for its popular smartphones, has said it has equally high ambitions for its newly launched SU7 electric vehicle (EV), which it sees as a competitor to the likes of Tesla and Porsche.
But the car plans, which Xiaomi revealed last week, face an uphill battle in an extremely crowded EV market where demand has been slowing amidst a supply glut that has seen carmakers aggressively cutting prices.
Xiaomi founder and chief executive Lei Jun launched Xiaomi in 2010 in a similarly competitive smartphone market and the firm has since grown into the No. 3 smartphone maker worldwide by shipments, according to IDC.
Lei spoke of his ambitions for the car in a television interview earlier in December ahead of the official launch, where Lei touted the SU7’s “super electric motor” technology that he said could deliver acceleration speeds surpassing those of Tesla or Porsche’s EVs.
‘Top five’ target
Lei said he is aiming to make the company one of the world’s top five automakers in the coming years.
“By working hard over the next 15 to 20 years, we will become one of the world’s top five automakers, striving to lift China’s overall automobile industry,” he said at the SU7 launch, calling the vehicle a “dream car comparable to Porsche and Tesla”.
The vehicle shares its operating system with Xiaomi’s smartphones and other electronic devices, offering integration with the company’s existing app portfolio.
The SU7 comes in two versions, one with a driving range of 668 km (415 miles) on a single charge and another with a range of up to 800 km.
That compares to a range of up to 650 km for Tesla’s Model S.
The vehicle is likely to begin deliveries sometime in the next few months and Lei said it would sell at a price that would be “a bit high, but one that will have everyone will think is justified”.
He said the vehicle has fast-charging capabilities in low winter temperatures and that its driver-assistance features could recognise obstacles under challenging conditions such as heavily falling snow.
He said the company had invested heavily in the SU7’s technology and that its autonomous driving capabilies would be at the industry’s cutting edge.
The car is to be manufactured by a division of state-owned car maker BAIC Group in a Beijing factory with a capacity of up to 200,000 vehicles a year.
Two of Xiaomi’s top competitors are likely to be BYD, which has about a one-third share of the domestic market for so-called new-energy vehicles (NEVs), and Tesla with a share of 9 percent as of the third quarter of 2023, according to Zheshang Securities.
The companies both had a market share of about 17 percent of purely electric vehicles in the third quarter, with BYD’s sales slightly below those of Tesla for the quarter, but the Chinese firm moved closer to surpassing Tesla as the world’s biggest pure electric car maker after a sales surge in the fourth quarter.
Popular Chinese NEV maker Li Auto is set to launch its first purely electric car, the MEGA, on 1 March and begin deliveries later that month, it said on Sunday.
Rival premium EV maker Xpeng on Monday launched its latest model, the X9 MPV, with deliveries starting immediately, and said its overall EV deliveries rose 17 percent year-on-year to 141,601 cars in 2023, including a record 20,115 delivered in December.
Year-end EV sales surge
Huawei said on Monday orders for its M9 SUV, under its EV brand Aito, have surpassed 30,000 since launch seven days earlier, with deliveries set to begin in late February.
Aito said it delivered 94,380 cars in 2023, including 24,468 in December, following 75,000 deliveries in 2022 after deliveries began in March of that year.
Geely-backed Zeekr said it began delivering its 007 electric sedan on Monday and that overall deliveries rose 65 percent to 118,685 in 2023.
Nio, another EV maker targeting the premium segment, said it delivered 160,038 vehices in 2023, up by nearly 31 percent year-on-year, including 18,000 deliveries in December.